G. K. Chesterton: “Reason is itself a matter of faith…. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”

Scheduled to be presented at the combined annual meeting of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions and the International Society of Christian Apologetics, May 2-3, 2019.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said in 2012 that the Big Bang theory was a fairy tale and that the theory of evolution was “encouraged” by the devil.

“I find the big bang really quite fascinating. I mean, here you have all these highfalutin scientists and they’re saying it was this gigantic explosion and everything came into perfect order. Now these are the same scientists that go around touting the second law of thermodynamics, which is entropy, which says that things move toward a state of disorganization,” Carson said.

“I then say to them look, ‘I’m not going to criticize you. You have a lot more faith then I have.’ I don’t have enough faith to believe that. I give you credit for that, but I’m not going to denigrate you because of your faith and you shouldn’t denigrate me for mine. And that’s the kind of attitude … that I think is very important in the society in which we live today.”[1]

My paper is only indirectly about cosmology, but the cosmology that one believes is determined by what I will develop. Dr. Carson has essentially summarized it, but I will try to give a more thorough understanding of the roles of faith and reason in science and evangelical Christianity.

I think that more Christian apologetics should be directed against science or scientism, that is, the belief of the logical positivists that knowledge only comes by experimentation. First, there has been a greatly exaggerated notion that science and Christianity are at war because the cosmology and ontology of each is incompatible, that is, Creation vs the Big Bang and naturalistic evolution. But the reality is that science is dependent upon an orderly system that is inconsistent with the premises of naturalism, as Alvin Plantinga has eloquently discussed.[2] Further, the idea of chance is chance within possibilities or probability which has numerical limitations, such as, a roulette wheel or pack of cards. Total or infinite chance has no possibilities or probabilities and thus is nothing and can only be nothing. So, the idea of chance in evolution is an impossibility, requiring some directive activity or intelligent design.[3] Total chance is nothingness and nothing at all.

Further, science is as much based upon faith, as is Christianity. In fact, all knowledge is based upon faith, as I will demonstrate. A sound understanding of the nature of science gives the Christian apologist a great advantage and confidence in his interaction with non-Christians and even Christians who have not understood in this way this clash of worldviews.

Episteme, Scientitia, Natural Philosophy.

For more than a century, science has subtly gained an epistemological status beyond its claims. The history of the word, “science,” demonstrates this false position. Science is abbreviated from natural science which has its origins in natural philosophy. This movement is a leap over an epistemological chasm. Virtually everyone is suspicious of any form of philosophy, and rightly so! Thus, if what we call “science” today were instead still called “natural philosophy,” its credibility would be diminished. But the abbreviated “science” gives it an epistemological advantage that deceives its own faith-based status.

There is more to this history. Episteme appears in Greek philosophy where Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and others wrestled to the point of formulating the complicated epistemological term, justified true belief, which continues to complicate debates about knowledge. Then, there is the Latin equivalent of episteme, as scientitia. Until “natural science” was shortened to “science,” all developed disciplines of study were called science. For example, the Scholastics denoted “theology as the queen of the sciences,” and that philosophy was her “handmaiden.”. Do 21st century students or their professor understand that “science” has that broader application in history? If they did, they would rebel that theology was the “queen” of all other disciplines, including modern science. I hope that my presentation here will contribute to the restoration of that queen to her throne.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy when discussing “Truth” concludes:

Except in special cases, most scientific researchers would agree that their results are only approximately true…. Other philosophers believe it’s a mistake to say the researchers’ goal is to achieve truth…. Scientific theories are designed to fit the world (as they see it). Scientists should not aim to create true theories; they should aim to construct theories whose models are representations of the world.[4]

“Thus, we may think that Newtonian physics is closer to the truth than Aristotelean, and relativity and quantum physics closer than Newtonian. But none of these can claim to be more than our best approximation to the Truth, our current truth. Since the idea of Truth functions as a regulative ideal, any current truth is phenomenal and not noumenal truth.”[5]

Thus, by these criteria, science does not achieve the standard of truth itself. It is a belief system with weak foundations.

Faith and Belief Are Synonyms

In this move to diminish the epistemological position of science, and also in my consideration of faith and reason, I want to posit that “faith” and “belief” are synonyms. First, the noun, pistis, in the Greek may be translated faith or belief according to the translator’s judgment. The verb, pisteuo, can only be translated “believe,” as curiously English has no verb form of “faith.” Also, curiously, we have “beliefs,” but not “faiths.” We say, “My beliefs are thus,” but not “My faiths are thus.” Maybe these curiosities in English contribute to some persons thinking that they are not synonyms.

Second, faith and belief are interchangeable in virtually all texts. Even strong atheists, including all the Humanist Manifestos, use the word believe. If they “believe,” then they have faith. Everyone argues their own beliefs, that is, their personal faith position.

Third, if one reads definitions in dictionaries and glossaries of both words, he will find that similar, and in many instances, the same synonyms and descriptives are used in both definitions. If two words have virtually identical meanings, then they are synonyms.

But, why is this identity of faith and belief important? Since the Enlightenment, and possibly before, “faith” is often “the faith,” as in “the faith of our fathers,” or more relevant to my position, “peoples of faith.” This latter designation is particularly central. If there are “peoples of faith,” then what is everyone who does not fall into this category? Who indeed? What do you think? Pause…

I would contend that the opposite, nay the antithesis, of “peoples of faith” is “persons of reason!” Now, if one presents his or her position as one of “faith” and opposes a person of “reason,” who has the immediate advantage before anything is said? To any person who is trying to be objective (perhaps an impossibility), 😊 the position of reason has the greater credibility. I would posit with great emphasis, that this dichotomy of faith and reason has greatly contributed to the decline of the believability of the Christian faith in the West, and that without addressing this dichotomy, our apologetics will be hampered, particularly in the marketplace of serious ideas. This position is the central theme of this paper.

This dichotomy carries over into the concept of religion. I will address this problem in two ways. What is a religion? It is one of the most difficult words to define. Some try to limit it to beliefs with a supernatural dimension. But, Confucianism, Buddhism, and other belief systems that are designated as religions do not have a supernatural dimension. Thus, religion cannot be denoted as only those beliefs with supernatural elements. For example, the modern belief in political correctness has all the characteristics of religious fervor, and thus, is as much a religious system, as any other belief system that we call “religious.” The same would be true of all other -isms, such as socialism, communism, nationalism, naturalism, scientism, and others.[6]

Now listen carefully: the areas of interest of the category of philosophy of religion are the same as those of philosophy in general. Here is a description of that category.

Philosophers often raise critical questions about whether certain beliefs are meaningful, true, probable, or plausible. They seek to clarify beliefs and are concerned about whether they are consistent and coherent. They are interested in whether beliefs have explanatory power and about what their implications are. So, we will find philosophers of religion asking these same kinds of questions about religious beliefs. Philosophers of religion also bring insights and interests from other areas of philosophy (e.g., epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics) to bear on their consideration of religion.[7]

The category, philosophy of religion, greatly contributes to this ghettoization of religious beliefs in general, and Christian beliefs in particular. I have written two papers that argue that philosophy of religion should not be a separate category in philosophy because it promotes a deception that religious beliefs are an epistemological step-child.[8] Christians need to work towards breaking down this wall of separation that the category “religion” creates.

Generic Faith

From this review in which “belief” and “faith” are synonyms, I introduce the term, “generic faith.” Most lay Christians and many scholars are not familiar with the idea that the psychological process of faith is identical whether in the Christian or non-Christian. Because the Bible and our salvation centers on faith, Christians may think that the process of their faith is somehow different from other processes of faith. But how faith works is the same for the atheist, scientist, communist, and Christian. All persons take what they know and reason, consciously or unconsciously (by most), to personal beliefs. Unless one is omniscient, he must have faith because what he does not know may refute what he does know. Unless one claims omniscience, he acts on faith.

Perhaps, we could make this definition: “faith is the ability to make decisions without being omniscient.” You chose to drive or fly to this meeting. Did you know with absolute certainty that you would arrive: all kinds of things could have prevented you: sickness in you or some family member, car or airplane mechanical failures, pilot or GPS error, an alarm clock that did not go off, etc., etc. Likely, there are some who planned to be here that did not make it. But all had sufficient faith to take time and expense to plan and arrive here. You did not have absolute certainty that everything would work out, as planned. Any lack of absolute certainty necessitates an act of faith—faith in all kinds of technology and peoples. That is generic faith. We cannot function daily without it. We could not even get out of bed in the morning and make coffee without it.

My faith is that which I conclude from my reasoning about the world and what I know. Faith is what I conclude from my reasoning.

The difference in generic faith and Christian faith is the object of our faith in One who is omniscient and Who has revealed Himself and His plan in His Revelation. The psychology of faith in other areas is no different. But, because God is omniscient and we have His Revelation and the Holy Spirit, we have certain knowledge that is not believed by the non-Christian.

All Knowledge Is Faith-Based and Reason Is Its Handmaiden[9]

The International Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an insightful introduction in its article on “Faith and Reason.”

Traditionally, (both) faith and reason have … been considered to be sources of justification for religious belief. Because (each) can purportedly serve this same epistemic function, it has been a matter of much interest to philosophers and theologians how the two are related and thus how the rational agent should treat claims derived from either source. Some have held that there can be no conflict between the two—that reason properly employed and faith properly understood will never produce contradictory or competing claims—whereas others have maintained that faith and reason can (or even must) be in genuine contention over certain propositions or methodologies. Those who have taken the latter view disagree as to whether faith or reason ought to prevail when the two are in conflict.[10]

An interaction between faith and reason began during the classical period.

Both (Plato and Aristotle) developed versions of natural theology by showing how religious beliefs emerge from rational reflections on concrete reality as such. (This was) an early form of religious apologetics—demonstrating the existence of the gods—(which) can be found in Plato’s Laws. Aristotle’s Physics gave arguments demonstrating the existence of an unmoved mover as a timeless self-thinker from the evidence of motion in the world.[11]

And, the Stoics, Epicureans, and Plō-tīnus had their own versions, as well.

Christ and Christianity, at least in the West, changed forever the relationship of faith and reason. Conflicts began to arise, beginning with the Apostle Paul’s Mars Hill address after which there was a mixed reaction. “Some began to sneer, but others said, ‘We shall hear you again concerning this.’”[12] Later, Paul addresses the Corinthians that epistemology is tied up in in “Christ crucified” which by contrast is “foolishness to the Gentiles” and “a stumbling block” to the Jews.[13] Later, in Colossians, he states that “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, ” and “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world.”[14]

Beyond the Gospel era, Tertullian warned that “Athens has nothing to do with Jerusalem.” It seems that reason with “man as a measure of all things” and “Thus says the Lord” were sources of irresolvable conflict with each other.

However, Augustine began 700 years of theological pursuits that wedded faith and reason. Augustine is famous for his, “I believe in order to understand.” However, Augustine depended just a much upon reason, as he did faith. Repeat… Here, is a summary of Augustine’s thinking.

If there is a sense in which faith precedes reason, there is equally a sense in which reason precedes faith. That mental act which we call faith is one (that is) possible only to rational creatures; and of course, we act as rational creatures in performing it. “If, then,” Augustine argues, “it is rational that, with respect to some great concerns which we find ourselves unable to comprehend but that the amount of reason which leads us to accord this faith, what that amount may be, is itself anterior to faith.” Faith is by no means blind; it has eyes of its own with which, before it completes itself in giving that assent which, when added to thinking, constitutes it believing, it must needs see both that to which it assents and that on the ground of which it assents to it. As we cannot believe without knowing what it is to which we accord our faith, so we cannot believe without perceiving good grounds for according our faith. “No one believes anything unless he has before thought it worthy of belief.” Reason, therefore, can never be “wholly lacking to faith because it belongs to it to consider to whom faith should be given.” This function of reason, by which it considers to what men or writings it is right to accord to faith is then precedent to faith; though faith is precedent to reason in the sense that, an adequate ground of credit having been established by reason, conviction must at once form itself without waiting for comprehension to become perfect.[15]

The Scholastic period continued this unity with “theology being the Queen of the Sciences” and “philosophy as her handmaiden,” as we have noted already. However, Thomas Aquinas separated knowledge into two areas: that which could be known by faith and that which could be known by reason. I want to be fair here, and there is considerable debate between Thomists and many evangelicals. Thus, with “fear and trembling” I am not going to discuss Aquinas. I mention him in passing because the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Reformation further distorted the relationship of faith and reason, and I only propose that this distortion may have begun with Aquinas.

The Great Divide Opens Up: The Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Reformation

Ockham’s denial of the necessity in the scope of scientific findings perhaps surprisingly heralded the beginnings of a significant movement towards the autonomy of empirical science. But with this increased autonomy came also a growing incompatibility between the claims of science and those of religious authorities. Thus, the tension between faith and reason now became set squarely for the first time in the conflict between science and religion. This influx of scientific thinking undermined the hitherto reign of Scholasticism. By the seventeenth century, what had begun as a criticism of the authority of the Church evolved into a full-blown skepticism regarding the possibility of any rational defense of fundamental Christian beliefs.[16]

This move gained momentum with the Enlightenment. But what was The Enlightenment? Perhaps, the best source for an answer is the person who intended his own “Copernican revolution,” namely Immanuel Kant. In the first paragraph of his paper, “What is Enlightenment, he states:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. Sapere Aude! [dare to know] “Have courage to use your own understanding!”—that is the motto of enlightenment.

“Man’s immaturity” was “aided reason,” that is, the authoritative teachings of the Church and the Bible.[17] At first glance, Kant’s statements seem “reasonable” (pun intended). Who could “reason” against all men thinking “clearly and distinctly,” as René Descartes affirmed? Or, that “concrete experience is ‘our only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact.'”[18]

But what we see … has been … and continues to be, an ever-increasing movement away from Christianity and its truths being of any importance in this new era of “reason.”

Conclusions about Faith and Reason

Certain conclusions can be drawn about reason and faith. First, reason is necessary to formulate a statement or proposition of faith. Grammar, language, culture, logic, and much more comprise this formulation, all of which requires careful reasoning from these various faith positions. As a brief summary, a person reasons his way to what he believes. Choices of words and the nuances of sentence structure involve reasoning towards an acceptable statement of faith.

Second, the postmodern idea of the “hermeneutical circle” explains that faith grows through reason. The text changes me (that is, my thinking), and the next time I go to the same text, this new understanding will then apply to the same text, increasing my understanding of it. This cycle continues as many times as I approach the text and all other texts that I read.. My faith today is not my faith next week because of this reasoning process.

Third, faith is more powerful than reason. One may present an elaborate system that seems to prove his or her position, but a listener can simply say, “That is not what I believe” with little or no evidence. His conclusion may be irrational, but no amount of “reasoning” can overcome it. For example, there is considerable evidence that miracles occur—those in the Bible and researched events at Lourdes in France—but many scholars just do not “believe” the evidence.

Fourth, there are lengthy explanations of faith as the ultimate basis of epistemology, such as, Christian Smith’s Moral Believing Animals and Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Nagel concludes his book, stating: “The human will to believe is inexhaustible.”[19]

Fifth, faith is where I conclude my reasoning. By reasoning, I attach authority and value to my knowledge, concluding with my faith position. Faith and reason do not contain knowledge, but “manipulate,” if you will, what is known. There are only four sources of knowledge: that which is innate (including intellectual ability); that which is learned from parents, school and study; that which is reasoned from this already-present knowledge; and the possibility of implanted knowledge by God, as he did with writers of Scripture and those He healed by their faith.[20]

Belief presupposes understanding, not necessarily at a conscious level. Knowledge precedes reason and faith: there has to be something there in order to reason or to have faith. Ontology precedes epistemology, or one is a unity with the other. Simultaneously, whatever one believes or concludes by reason is right or wrong by some standard.

Omit in talk. Michael Polanyi claims that we cannot really know our most basic faiths. He argues for an unconscious, tacit knowledge that manifests itself in focal (conscious) awareness. I partially agree, but I think that we can know what we tacitly believe by what we think and how we behave. Who is not frequently surprised by his or her own behavior?

So, I conclude that all epistemology is faith-based and that Christian apologists should develop that truth in their arguments and debates with non-Christians. If we allow this debate to be faith vs. reason, then we have lost from the beginning, for virtually everyone will believe reason over faith. However, their position is still one of faith as they have “faith in reason.”… Repeat.

We cannot allow Christian faith to be separated from the marketplace of ideas, as some different category that the Enlightenment attempted in its departure from “aided reason.” Philosophers in general, and Christian philosophers in particular, continue this separation by promoting the idea that knowledge that uses the Bible is not philosophy. The category of philosophy of religion, perhaps most strongly, continues to this ghettoization, as I have said.

Empiricism, Induction, and the Scientific Method as a Fallacy

Contributing to the status of modern science as truth, is the scientific method. This method has other names that may be more familiar, such as, empiricism, induction, positivism and logical positivism. To engage any one of these is to engage them all. In any basic textbook of philosophy, these will be called logical fallacies. Here are a few of the reasons.

  1. Positivism or logical positivism is the position that truth can only be achieved by empirical means, but this statement itself is theory, not based in empiricism. That is, the proposition that truth can be thus achieved cannot be proven by the method it claims, making positivism a statement of belief, not a derived conclusion.
  1. The mind is not a blank slate. Babies have sufficient knowledge to communicate to their parents about their needs and have the potential in physical, language and intellectual skills to become fully functioning adults. Noam Chomsky has described how generative language development cannot all be learned.[21] There is a considerable knowledge and ability that is innate.

***3. The senses are only passive channels from objective reality to the mind/brain complex. They are no more than the cables that connect your televisions or computers. It is the transmitting device that formulates information and the receiver which translates it. When a person reads a book, the knowledge on the page is transferred to the mind/brain which interprets it. Vision is only a conduit for that transfer. The only way that senses affect knowledge is the efficiency or inefficiency of that transfer.

  1. Science changes over time. There has been Newtonian physics; now there is quantum physics and chaos theory. There was Euclidian geometry; now there is non-Euclidean geometry. There was the Pythagorean system; now there is calculus and other mathematics.
  1. There is wide disagreement on virtually all scientific issues, especially in quantum physics. As an example, I thought that aerodynamics was a settled science. There are tens of thousands of airplane flights every day. It works enormously well, but do you know that its science is still debated?
  1. Within the scientific method, there are personal choices made all along the way. What to study? What methods? What mathematics is appropriate? What limitations will the study have, since no experiment can be open-ended? What financial resources are available? Etc., etc. No two persons or groups will make the same decisions at each step? The scientific method is anything but scientific and a means to knowledge or truth. Michael Polanyi gives great detail on the passion of the person being the great determinant of scientific pursuits.[22]
  1. There are enormous scientific problems that cannot be answered by 21st century science. Into what is the universe expanding? What is a black hole? How can the sun propagate itself? How did life come from inorganic matter? What is consciousness and self-consciousness? Why do people have a conscience? How can the random processes of evolution produce logical thought? Where did matter come from? Why is there something rather than nothing? If we know so little, and disagree on so many issues, how can communication take place?

Well, there is an enormous literature today on philosophy of science. From my observations, many Christian apologists argue for their beliefs using science, but their debate then becomes science vs. science, so they are grounding Christianity in scientific beliefs and not the Bible. I believe that this approach is seriously in error.

Alvin Plantinga’s “Bridge” Approximates My Thinking

Alvin Plantinga is one of the most prominent and influential Christian philosophers today. In one of his major papers, “Augustinian Christian Philosophy,” he calls for “penetrating and detailed investigations” into “the development of science, the nature of freedom, the nature of human action… and a thousand other questions.”[23] He says that these topics should be addressed “starting from the Christian faith, using all that they know, including Christian teachings.” But he presents an objection from the Thomist tradition which states that Christian philosophy must be “pure and unspotted from theology.” That is, the “nontheological sciences are the province of reason” and theology is the province of faith…. What we know by way of reason has for us an epistemic … advantage over what we know by faith…. (since what we know) “by faith we know by way of testimony.” [24]

But, then, Plantinga goes on to show that much of science, such as, the Pythagorean or Godel’s theorems and physics, are taken on the authority of mathematicians and physicists who understand these concepts far better than the philosophers. Plantinga is “suspicious of the epistemic benefits claimed on behalf of philosophy or science untainted by theology.” Further, Plantinga calls for the Augustinian to “concede” the point as being less important than our “work at discovering and developing our knowledge of the conditionals,” regardless of the distinctions between faith and reason. He calls this a “bridge” between the Augustianian and the Thomist.

He goes on to say that “It is not the theologian who is most appropriately trained and qualified for work on these conditionals; it is instead the psychologist, historian, biologist, economist, sociologist, literary critic… (and) the philosopher.”[25] (Note that he mentions psychology, as I will focus on that area shortly.) Suffice it here to say that he is calling for Christians to use “all that they know, including Christian teachings … being suspicious of the epistemic benefits on behalf of philosophy or science untainted by theology,” Yet, he contradicts this position when he says that it is the non-theologian who is most qualified for this task. Thus, I favor the following.

Robertson McQuilkin Defines My Position

Robertson McQuilkin, formerly President of Columbia International University, was concerned about the possible rise of secular thinking in Christian psychology and wrote the paper, “The Behavioral Sciences Under the Authority of Scripture.”[26] He begins by defining the terms of his approach.

By “under the authority” I mean that when the teaching of Scripture conflicts with any other idea, the teaching of Scripture will be accepted as truth and the other idea will not be accepted as truth.

By “functional control” I mean that the principle of Biblical priority over contrary non-Biblical opinion is not merely a doctrine to which one swears allegiance but is actually put into practice thoroughly and consistently.

By “derived from Scripture” I mean concepts that are determined to be the meaning of the original author through common-sense principles of understanding language (scientific, historico-grammatical interpretation).

By “the teaching of Scripture” I mean everything the Bible affirms as true.

He concludes that only a person who is trained competently in both the behavioral sciences and in Biblical theology should practice and write in these areas.

Application to Psychology and Medicine

Psychology is a subject that I have studied for almost fifty years. There is, little if anything, that is truth or reality, in psychology! First, there are several dozen theories of psychology[27] from Freud to Jung to reality therapy to behaviorism to whatever the latest theory (fad) is. No psychologist has solved the problem or what is man and what should he do. Second, there is no “normal” in psychology. To what does a “therapist” try to pattern his “client’s” emotions, thinking and behavior? Which of these dozens of theories does he or she choose to practice? My introduction to my first psychiatric rotation was, “Choose any method that you prefer to work with patients,” even though I was virtually ignorant in this discipline!

Psychology is one example of the hidden provenance of the word, “science” that I addressed earlier. Psychology, sociology, economics, and biology are called sciences and thus attain a level of confidence that belies their denotation as “soft” sciences because personal belief and opinions have great influence in theories and practices in these fields. Too many Christians—lay persons, pastors, professionals, scientists, scholars, and apologists—give a credibility, even the designation of “sound science,” to psychology. A book entitled, Psychology as Religion, better addresses the true nature of psychology.[28]

The failure to let God’s Word be the authority in areas claimed by psychology illustrates the enormous fallacy (and tragedy) of so-called scientific “truth” or reality. Thousands, if not millions, of Christians seek emotional stability, correct thinking, and righteous behavior from the local drugstore, street vendor, secularist psychotherapist, and deluded Christian who practice by unbiblical standards. Worse, Christian colleges and seminary faculties are filled with those who have been trained by this humanistic thinking when a Biblical method has been available for 50 years![29] In my recent work on this and other papers, I have frequently found Christian apologists who cite “psychology” as “sound” knowledge when it comes nowhere near that status. I am not saying that certain “psychological” problems do not exist, but that “the study of the psyche (soul)” must be grounded in writings of the “soul” or “psyche” maker, God’s Word, as McQuilkin has described.

Recommended Reading

For those who are not familiar with philosophy of science, I recommend two books that are easy reads. The first, is Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them by David H. Freedman. He gives example after example of failures in physics, finance, government, sports, entertainment, kids playing video games, colleges and earning power, hours of sleep at night, biofuel and environment, sun exposure, nice guys and romance, effectiveness of fertility treatments, pets and health, and much more.

He particularly focuses on medicine:

When (medical) studies were published in the most prestigious medical journals (hundreds of them but only … one percent of all research) … it was only months, and at most a few years, before other studies came out to either fully refute (those) findings or declare that the results were “exaggerated” …. Results that were upheld were outweighed two-to-one by results destined to be labeled “never mind” …. The other 99 percent of studies were far less careful in their work. Further, (such) results are spun and misinterpreted by university and industrial public relations departments and journalists.[30]

The second book is Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty by Morris Kline. Throughout history and into modern times, mathematics has been thought to be truth itself. But nothing could be further from the truth. This book demonstrates that.

Creations of the early 19th century, strange geometries and strange algebras, forced mathematicians, reluctantly and grudgingly, to realize that mathematics proper and the mathematical laws of science were not truths.[31]

In fact, mathematics had developed illogically…. a failure to recognize all the principles of logic required… an inadequate rigor of proof (using) intuition, physical arguments, and appeal to geometrical design had taken the place of logical arguments.[32]

When a scientist of genius brings mathematical order and clarity into the confusion of appearances, he achieves his aim only at the expense of replacing relatively intelligible concepts by symbolic abstractions which reveal nothing of the true nature of the universe.[33] (347) Quote from Pierre Duhem

And, then, there was Kurt Gödel’s incompleteness theorems that shattered the world of mathematics and philosophy.

These books will shake any trust that you have in science or mathematics as answers for mankind. If you do not read them, or others of similar persuasion, then your epistemological understanding will be severely deficient. Some of these errors and uncertainties come from the noetic effects of sin, but I have not time to discuss this complex subject.

All that I have said to this point has been preparatory to:

The Bible as the Basis of Truth

It would be impossible here to address any comprehensive review of the philosophies about truth.[34] I have presented that all claims to knowledge involve the same process, whether by faith, reason, religion, philosophy, or apologetics. Categories within these areas confuse their common origins and epistemological equivalence. No one person or group has any more claim than another. Within this morass and confusion, Thomas Nagel writes:

“It is perfectly possible that the truth is beyond our reach, in virtue of our intrinsic cognitive limitations, and not merely beyond our grasp in humanity’s present stage of intellectual development.”[35]

Thus, I propose that evangelical scholars designate the Bible as their test for truth and to understand it in the fullest way possible by the best hermeneutical process.

First, we use the word, “inerrant,” only with reference to the Bible. At least three of our scholarly groups make this claim: The Evangelical Theological Society, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and our own ISCA, which has particularly strong statements. All evangelical churches, by definition, hold the Bible to be inerrant, or some statement that is close or equivalent to that statement. Further, “infallibility” is also used concerning the Bible. Some depart somewhat from these absolutist statements that the Bible is their “ultimate” or “final authority.”

Now, here is my challenge. There is no other source of knowledge to which we ascribe these superlatives. Thus, are we not already positing that the Bible is special knowledge beyond all others? Should not such special knowledge be called truth with nothing else falling into that category? Should not all knowledge be subject to Biblical truth?

“Well,” some challenge, “The Bible does not speak to every area of knowledge.” Yes, I concede that that is true, but I will not concede that the Bible has been “mined” for all the truth that it contains. I have already given the example of psychology and to a lesser extent with medicine. On the one hand, I will posit that the Bible will not be mined for all its truth until we make it the sole category of truth, at least in all the ways that McQuilkin meant by “under the authority of Scripture.” On the other hand, we should marvel at all the areas that the Bible does speak to: economics, art, music, history, theology, philosophy, cosmology, education, crime and punishment, civil government, and more, according to one’s classifications. Further, the Bible is the one and only ethical standard. It declares whether all human thinking and action is good or evil. Is warfare justifiable? Use of atomic weapons? Use of medicines? Use of genetically modified organisms?

Second, across the entire philosophical and epistemological spectrum, there are no agreed upon foundational beliefs often stated, as “foundationalism is dead.” If this morass exists, and it is a morass, considering the diversity of claims of the past and present, is not the Bible (at least for evangelicals) a reasonable choice as the only source of truth. Of course, as the Westminster Confession states, truth would also be knowledge which “by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”

Third, if evangelicals are consistent and coherent, then already is the Bible our only source of morals and ethics. “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”[36] While material objects, technology and science, and persons as bodies are not immoral relative to their existence, any thought or actions to which they are subjected is either good or bad, that is, to God’s glory and coherent with His righteousness.

Fourth, the correspondence theory of truth, as usually designated, is necessarily set aside by my proposal for the Bible as the only source of truth. I think that many evangelicals have made a grave mistake in their claim that truth corresponds to reality or “what is.” (1) That claim comes from a system of philosophy that is closed to Revelation. (2) That claim is necessarily dependent upon one’s concept of reality. In the history of philosophy, those claims are as divergent as the various Greek interpretations and the modern rationalists, empiricists, postmodernists, and every variety that merges parts of each. A decision towards one form of reality is making a foundational claim which current philosophers have almost, if not entirely, abandoned. Thus, the correspondence theory of truth makes the Bible dependent upon a secular claim for truth and reality where there is only widely divergent disagreement. (3) If one makes the distinction between theories of truth and tests for truth, then the same disagreement exists.

Fifth, if one does give credence to these tests for truth, the Bible is one’s best claim. Certainly, ontology corresponds to God’s creation, epistemology corresponds to God’s mind immediately and to God’s special revelation mediately, and ethics corresponds to God’s character. Then, what could be more coherent than God’s mind and His special revelation? And, what is more practical or pragmatic than being obeying God and His commandments.?

Sixth, we have looked at all the fallacies of science. It surely cannot be the standard for truth, yet to place the correspondence theory of truth as foundational is to make science foundational.

Seventh, what do we have to lose? Atheists, liberals, and leftists could not have a worse view of Christianity and Biblical authority than they already do in the 21st Century. Subtly, or not so subtly, Christians do not want to be seen as ignorant of scholarly beliefs and standards, but is the minimal status that we might gain from pagans worth the cost?

Summary Statements

  1. Science, in its abbreviation from natural science and natural philosophy, has an epistemological status that exists far beyond its actual status.
  2. Faith and belief are synonyms and should be discussed as such.
  3. The psychological process of faith is the same for religious and non-religious beliefs, that is, generic faith.
  4. All knowledge is faith-based and reason formulates statements of faith.
  5. Reason is necessary formulate a statement of faith and reason is based in faith, as in “faith in reason.”
  6. The scientific method (induction and empiricism) is a fallacy and should be recognized as such.
  7. Alvin Plantinga’s paper gets very close to my final conclusions with more extensive arguments.
  8. We looked at psychology as a failure to let the authority of the Bible to speak to it.
  9. I recommended two books, as an introduction to the fallacies in science and mathematics.
  10. Finally, the Bible best fulfills all theories of truth: correspondence, coherence, and pragmatic.

I leave you with a final thought: why is the church always moving away from Biblical authority, and will you be part of that leftward movement, or mine the Scriptures for its abundant fullness for which God intended it. The Bible speaks of only two possibilities: light and darkness. Which path will you choose?


Adler, Mortimer. Ten Philosophical Mistakes. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985.

**Clark, Gordon. “Faith and Saving Faith.” What Is Saving Faith? Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 2004.

———. God’s Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics. Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1982.

———. Philosophy of Science and Belief in God. Jefferson, MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1987.

———. “Religion, Reason, and Revelation,” 107-272.. Christian Philosophy. Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation, 2004.

———. “Three Types of Religious Philosophy,” 13-106. Christian Philosophy. Unicoi, TN: The Trinity Foundation, 2004.

**Chomsky, Noam. Language and Thought. Wakefield, RI: Moyer Bell, 1991.

Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith, 3rd Ed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008.

Feyerabend, Paul. Against Method. London: Verso, 2010.

**———. The Tyranny of Science. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press, 2011.

***Freedman, David H. Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—And How to Know When Not to Trust Them. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010.

***Kline, Morris. Mathematics: The Loss of Certainty. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Lennox, John C. Can Science Explain Everything. Epsom, England: The Good Book Company, 2019.

Machen, J. Gresham. What Is Faith? Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979.

McQuilkin, Robertson. “The Behavioral Sciences Under the Authority of Scripture.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20, no. 1 (March 1977): 31-43.

***Polanyi, Michael. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958.

Pinker, Steven. The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

Plantinga, Alvin. “Augustinian Christian Philosophy.” The Monist 75 (1992): 291-320.

Poythress, Vern. Redeeming Philosophy. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014.

**Schaeffer, Francis. The Great Evangelical Disaster. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1984.

**Smith, Christian. Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

***Sproul, R. C. Not A Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.

Stokes, Mitch. How to Be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016.

***Asterisks denote

[1] CBSDC/AP, September 23, 2012. https://washington.cbslocal.com/2015/09/23/ben-carson-big-bang-evolution/

[2] Explain very well by Alvin Plantinga in his two papers on naturalism.

[3] R. C. Sproul, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1994.

[4] “Truth,” International Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP) https://www.iep.utm.edu/truth/

[5] Westphal, Overcoming Onto-theology, 101.

[6] Paul Tillich, Christianity and The Encounter of the World Religions, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1963).

[7] Michael Peterson, et al. Reason and Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998), 10. Italics are in the original text.

[8] https://www.biblicalphilosophy.org/quo-vadis-christian-philosopher-some-concerns-among-the-successes and https://www.biblicalphilosophy.org/quo-vadis-christian-philosopher-some-concerns-and-directions-among-the-successes

[9] For more on this subject, see https://www.biblicalphilosophy.org/faith-vs-faith-fighting-on-level-ground.

[10] “Faith and Reason,” https://www.iep.utm.edu/faith-re/

[11] Ibid.

[12] Acts 17:32.

[13] I Corinthians 1:18-31.

[14] Colossians 2:3, 8.

[15] B. B. Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, (Philadelphia, PA: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1956), 423-424.

[16] “Faith and Reason,” IEP.

[17] https://truthplace.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/brown-unaided-reason.pdf

[18] “Faith and Reason,” IEP.

[19] See biblio data following here.

[20]E.g., Matthew 9:22; Luke 17:19, 18:42.

[21] Noam Chomsky, Language and Thought, (Wakefield, RI: Moyer Bell, 1993).

[22] Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, 132-203.

[23] Alvin Plantinga, “Augustinian Christian Philosophy,” Monist 75 (1992): 312. Italics are Ed’s.

[24] Ibid., 314.

[25] Ibid., 316-7.

[26] McQuilkin, Robertson, “The Behavioral Sciences Under the Authority of Scripture,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 20, no. 1 (March 1977): 31-43.

[27] Everything that I say about “psychologists” also applies to “psychiatrists,” as far as they engage in “psychotherapy.” Today, most only prescribe medications for “disorders” of the brain and emotions.

[28] Paul Vitz, Psychology as Religion: The Cult of Self-Worship, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977).

[29] Jay E. Adams, Competent to Counsel, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1970). Adams and his disciples have written dozens of books and other materials for Christians to apply Scripture to their problems. Christians flounder in their sanctification because they have been influenced by secular psychology.

[30] p. 5.

[31] p. 4.

[32] p. 5.

[33] p. 347

[34] https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/truth/#Tru

[35] Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012), 128.

[36] II Timothy 3:16